Signs of life: the post-Martinez recovery

I understand most of the grousing about how this season has gone.  Some of it I agree with.  But one thing I don’t get is the assertion made by more than a few that the defense hasn’t improved from last season.  Seth Emerson notes a few statistical areas that have gotten better in 2010:

… Georgia ranks 28th in the nation in total defense. Through nine games, its average yards against the pass and run have each improved from last year.

After the run defense was embarrassed at South Carolina, the Bulldogs have managed to climb near the top of the SEC rankings in that category and rank 18th nationally.

In the final two seasons under Willie Martinez, Georgia gave up at least 40 points in five games. This year under Grantham, the best an opponent has done is last week when Florida got 34, helped by an overtime field goal.

Again, that’s with a new scheme, a new secondary philosophy and the attendant problems with fitting round personnel pegs into square 3-4 defense holes.  Not to say that things are perfect, or can’t get better, but that certainly smells like progress to me (especially with regard to Emerson’s last point).

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48 Comments

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48 responses to “Signs of life: the post-Martinez recovery

  1. bort

    Man, just think how our numbers would look if our LBs and D-backs could cover anyone.

  2. Jordan

    I don’t see how anyone could be watching these games and claim the defense isn’t approved. Granted we’ve been atrocious on 3rd and long, but that’s about my only gripe. Our offensive turnovers have put our defense in some bad positions and as the Senator mentioned above, this is an entirely new system missing some key components. I’m excited to see what Grantham can do once he gets his personal in here.

    • Garageflowers

      +1. I am excited about where the defense is headed. Not because of the 3-4, but because of the intensity and basics. I’m bet we would be improved even if we ran the exact defense as last year.

    • Todd

      I would like to see a comparison of the same offenses from last year to this year. Are the the offenses not as good this year? Florida not being good and still putting up 34 pts, Kentucky coming back, Tenn. sucking, Vandy being Vandy, and Lattimore getting 129 of his 188 yards after contact just doesn’t get me excited.

      Who are his people going to be? IMHO, Georgia has 1 saftey, 1 corner, and Geathers has potential. That is all I see coming back next year. Couple that with no play maker to help Murray next year(take AJ and Durham away and look at the numbers). I don’t see any teams that Georgia played getting any worse. I really think Georgia is looking at the same record next year.

      Anybody that is getting production is leaving.

      • Scoring is up in 2010: seven SEC teams are averaging more than 30 ppg, while last season, only four did.

      • Dawgwalker07

        Don’t sleep on Samuel an Jarvis jones at linebacker as well as ogletree’s development at safety. The defense may not be as bad as we fear.

        Hopefully a reciever can step up on offense and become a dependable target. Tk and Wooten have good potential. And I’m not ready to write off Marlon Brown just yet.

        I don’t think were going to be world beaters next hear but I definitely see were we can improve, especially in the win-loss column.

      • Hackerdog

        Fortunately, other schools will lose kids to graduation and the draft as well. So it’s not just UGA. Take a breath.

      • Bulldawg4life

        Todd,

        I wouldn’t say no playmakers are coming back next year. T. King will be back there is a great article on him in today’s ABH. Also the only player that might leave is AJ, Houston will not be a first rounder, yes he is a great player but he still needs to develop as an outside backer because that is where he is playing at in the league. So quit with all the damn negative sh*t please. If that is all you can say find another damn team to cheer for. Thanks.

        • Todd

          Oh please Mr. Bulldawg4life sir, please let me keep pulling for Georgia. I guess real is negative now. Truth is a bitch. I guess because the ABH did a story on King, that must mean he is good uh? “Charles Grant likes boiled peanuts”, back to you Larry. Don’t be shocked when Houston goes.

          Where is the physical group that is feared? Everybody talks scheme and learning curve, but I see nobody wanting to hit and use fundamental tackling skills. This program needs more than a tweaking. Sure, you beat Kentucky, Vandy, and maybe Tennessee next year. I still don’t see anybody wanting Lattimore, hell Relf for that matter. Let me know how tough this defense is after Auburn.

          I’m sure King and Ealy will be two 1000yd rushers next year. You guys sound like South Carolina fans. Wait til next year, before you know it the pre-season MNC trophy will be headed to Athens.

          This is what a program looks like when you don’t have enough athletes or game changers to cover up the flaws.

          If I am wrong, then I will be the first to say it. I just don’t think this team is close to making a run for the east, let alone the SEC.

          I think the big money’s / fanbase’s patience will break before Richt’s willingness to change problems before it is too late.

          • Go Dawgs!

            Unfortunately, you’re right about Houston.

            You can take the rest and put it in your pipe, though. Lattimore is good, but Georgia very easily could have won that ballgame if Washuan Ealey holds on to the football. That was at their place. We get them in Athens next year. Same story for Mississippi State, who also comes to Athens next year. For the record, Tavarres King IS a good player, and he’ll have an impact next year on offense.

            The defense is in year one of a new system, and has been showing steady improvement, and I don’t think that point can be debated. They certainly played better against Arkansas than Alabama’s defenders did. And not that beating up on Vandy is tough, but as the Senator pointed out in a post, they definitely stoned Vandy worse than anyone else has all year.

            So yeah, there are reasons to hope. If you want to do the gloom and doom thing, that’s fine. Before I stopped going to the Dawgvent, I formulated the opinion that there are people in this world who are just happier when they can be miserable. And that’s fair enough.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              Speaking only for myself, I am happy about the improvement on D. I am also optimistic about the Dawgs’ chances next year. The schedule is quite favorable, too. Most of the difficult games are in Athens. UGA actually gets 7 home games next year like every other SEC team (some still have 8, though) and UGA has 4 SEC home games. Rejoice! We are not at a disadvantage on the schedule in ’11. A level playing field.

              • King Jericho

                Mayor’s coming back to the light! Welcome back to positive town.

                • Mayor of Dawgtown

                  I am still a Dawgs fan 100%. I feel the way I feel about what has happened (particularly post the UGA-FLA game) but I still pull for the Dawgs as hard as ever. I also hope that what I have written about CMR the last few days is absolutely dead wrong. I will gladly eat crow if CMR turns things around.

          • Hackerdog

            You’re not being rational. This defense has improved over last year. That is true in every measurable category. I don’t care if you don’t believe it. It’s the truth.

            Lattimore did get a bunch of yards against us. He’s also got yards against everybody else. That’s why he’s the second leading rusher in the SEC with 103 yards per game. And we played him in our first real test with new defensive coaches in a new scheme. And we gave up 17 points. That’s the lowest SC has scored all year. They put up 35 on Alabama.

            The reason we’re not like SC fans is that we are being rational. We have a new defensive/special teams staff that is improving our performance. That improvement is coming despite coaching kids that weren’t recruited for the 3-4 and being taught poor fundamentals previously. So it is reasonable to expect that improvement to continue into next year and beyond.

            As for freaking out about losing players, I recall people believing that our linebackers would be awful this year because Rennie Curran wasn’t coming back. The fact of college football is that kids leave. New kids arrive. The wheel turns.

            Lastly, about Richt not being willing to make changes. Are you serious? Is this 2009? Richt fired the entire defensive staff, including the best man at his wedding. Yes, he should have done it a year earlier, but he did it. Do you believe Richt will show more loyalty to another assistant than he did to Martinez? Do you think another head coach could come in and fire Martinez even more than Richt already has?

      • GreenDawg

        Just because you can’t see any playmakers for next year doesn’t mean they’re not there. Kids come out of nowhere each and every year and become impact players. Who saw Akeem Dent as a playmaker last year? Who saw Brandon Boykin coming two years ago? Nobody did. If Houston comes back I fully expect him and Cornelius Washington to wreak havoc on quarterbacks next year. And don’t count out Amarlo Herrera from coming in and competing for a starting job right away. The kid is SEC-ready. Plus I see great tenacity from Jordon Love and Derek Owens on special teams this year. Granted, none of this means they are guaranteed playmakers on defense, but the point is there is definitely some potential there athletically and they are giving great effort. Either one of those guys could really solidify our secondary, especially if Boykin returns.

        • Todd

          Do you know how young Alabama’s defense is? Look at what they lost. They truely are rebuilding. Even if Ealy hangs on to the ball, Georgia still needs points. Since we are assuming, Georgia would surely have gotten the on-sides kick also right.

          Auburn held Lattimore to under 40 yards, Georgia didn’t have anybody want to hit him or at least hang on. What about Georgia’s defense makes you think they can tackle Lattimore now? Kids from St. Thomas Aquinas tackled him better in high school than Georgia’s defense did. Do you realize teams are shutting out Colorado? How about 34 in Jacksonville? What did Miss. St. and LSU allow Florida? Like I said, talk to me after Auburn. The only thing you guys are hanging your hat on is 3 BS teams.

          Why isn’t Washington doing it this year with Houston? Owens does look good on special teams, but his size concerns me when Georgia plays teams with big WRs that can block. I saw Branden Smith get assaulted in Jacksonville. I’ll I have seen Jordon Love do is let guys catch the ball behind him. Herrera looks good on film, but it is a “highlight” film and high school. Does it not strike you as funny that you site a kid that hasn’t made it into college as an impact player? Counting eggs before they have hatched aren’t you.

          Personally, I think(excluding Florida) the offense has held on to the ball pretty good. This offense turns the ball over like Joe Cox and Co., everybody would be wanting the change now.

          I have formulated the conclusion that there is people with kennel blindness. It is used in dog circles as the mentality of “because I feed it, it is a damn good one”. Same goes with fanbases, “because I support them, they will be good” Red and Black goggles. Usually those people have the WTF look on their face when their team is 4-5 and a laughing stock. Wondering how their team got here.

          • GreenDawg

            I’m not counting on anyone, especially not a high-school kid that hasn’t done anything yet. I only wanted to make the point that sometimes playmakers come out of nowhere. No one can predict who or what is going to be the strength and weaknesses of our defense next year, at best we’re all just guessing. I’m not here saying we’re gonna be world beaters next year on defense, but we have definitely improved and I see no reason why that improvement shouldn’t continue into next year. If a player has athleticism, instincts and coachability then a great coach can make him into a great player. I believe both Mark Richt and Grantham are great coaches, and we have athleticism in spades, so I trust that the playmakers will be there next year.

      • Will (the other one)

        Kentucky is vastly improved from 2009 offensively, and SCar finally has a running game for the first time ever. Arkansas was statistically better before Mallet started getting injured every game. Heck, Vandy is statistically improved on offense this season.

        As for next year, SCar breaks in a new QB, Locke and Cobb are finally gone at Kentucky, UT and Vandy will still be a train wreck, and I don’t see too much improvement from what we saw at Florida as at the very least, they’ll have a new center.
        Beyond that, we have to hope Cam Newton leaves early…

  3. AlphaDawg

    I’ve had this argument several times with my friends. All the 3 and outs from Bobo really hurt this defense early in the season. I think there was 6 or 7 against SC. Our biggest test will be against Auburn. I thought we did a ok job of containing Burton, though I doubt we will be as successful against the Gazell / Cyborg to our West.

  4. Spence

    Don’t forget we lost 3 NFL caliber defnsive linemen.

  5. Bobby Buttimer

    I don’t want to seem like Pollyana, but I’m proud of this team and I think the future is bright. This season hasn’t gone as well as we would like, but there have been no blow out wins against us either. Hell, when I think about it, we could have won every game this year, and that is not just wishfull thinking. A few bounces go our way and our record is much better. The defence has improved, and will keep improving. But there have not been any blow outs similar to the Florida games of 08 & 09, or the Tennessee fiasco of last year. I think there are alot of positives to see in this year’s team, and for the future.

    • Dooley's Wig

      You make some good points.

      Even the genius and wonderful humanitarian, Urban Meyer, is one shaky overtime field goal from sitting where we sit. And that’s with a stable of cream of the crop athletes.

      Auburn scares me to death. At this point I just want to beat Tech and then see what our basketball team can do this season.

  6. Sanford222View

    I am quite happy with the progress Grantham has made. I don’t understand how fans can’t see the improvement both from an intensity standpoint and from a statistical one. Yes there is still needed improvement but for a transition year where he is trying to find the right pieces from a 4-3 scheme to work in a 3-4 he is doing what I expected he would be able to do. The defense is definitely headed in the right direction.

  7. Rusdawg

    I will be convinced if we hold Auburn under 40.

  8. Joe

    Opponent’s Kickoff return yardage and field position are drastically better for us this year. Cutting down on the turnovers, especially inside our own red zone helps as well. It is ultimately a team game. Better O makes the defense’s job a lot easier.

  9. Dr. Y

    While we are only focused on the effect of adding the new defensive coaches, how about the effect of subtraction? Cowboys defense has been awful recently. Any evidence that Grantham’s departure contributed to that significantly?

  10. thewhiteshark

    The record may not show it, but this is a much improved football team from last year. I suspect they’d beat last years team by two or three touchdowns. This team has been in every game. They’ve just found ways to lose. If you started the season right now and ran through the schedule again they’d be much better than 4-5. Cant fix what has happened but can continue to improve.

    I think Grantham’s defenses will continue to get better. The future is bright with Aaron Murray at the helm. This year has stunk at times, but unlike the CWM years nobody has blown us out. Looking at the freshmen linemen we should have some bigger bodies up front in the coming years, and hopefully Jarvis Jones will be as advertised. I have hope for our linebackers for the first time in years. Ogletree is going to be good.

    It starts with defense and ours is on the right track. Unfortunately, as predicted, it has proven to be a work in progress, but, make no mistake, there has been real progress. I know folks are frustrated but give it a little time.

  11. Vious

    How many years are we going to say that things will get better in the upcoming years?

    We are going on 6 years without a single Atlanta appearance for an SEC Title

    How pathetic is that?

    • Todd

      Very.

      Don’t point out the obvious, you will be accused of being happier if your miserable.

    • Hackerdog

      I would say it’s less pathetic than the 20 year gap that occurred before Richt came here. And in Richt’s 10 years, we’ve gone 3 times. How pathetic is that?

  12. I agree, Senator. I have to talk one of my friends down about the D every week.
    However, I feel like the offensive play-calling has been just as suspect as ever. Bobo comes up with some real head-scratchers sometimes that puts the defense in some big holes. Unlike last year, the defense rises to the challenges that the offense leaves them in.
    P.S. I have a sneaking suspicion that Murray is the best QB we have had in the Richt era. His intangibles are off the charts in spite of uncreative, predictable play-calling.

  13. Bulldawg4life

    Does anyone else find it funny that as everybody sits here and bitches back and forth about shit Texas is in the same boat as UGA this year and I would bet their fans are not bitching and moaning about every little thing that has gone wrong. How many of you were saying all this through the CRG and CJD years. How many years was CVD the head man and how many SEC Championships did he win? How many National Championships? Give CTG another year and his defense will be good. 1000 page play book can not be learned in a year. So lets support the team through the bad just like all you do when the Dawgs win and quit with all the negative bullshit.

    • Will (the other one)

      I think Texas fans are taking a disastrous season a lot better than we are because they lost to Alabama in the National game last year, and we were in Shreveport.
      A decade of winning at least 10 games helps too.

    • Re: Texas and their relative bitchiness. I direct your attention here.

      • scdawg

        Herschel didn’t exactly hurt Dooley’s career.

        Plus Mack Brown isn’t sitting in a conference with other teams(Bama, Florida(2), LSU(2)) winning crystal footballs during his tenure either. Again bottomline is money generated and Texas is the most profitable AD in the country.

  14. I think this defense is MASSIVELY improved.

    As someone else noted, 3-and-out Bobo really hurt this defense in the first 5-6 games of the season.

  15. RobertKBurnham

    Especially considering we had Geno Atkins, Rennie Curran Jeff Owens last year and not this year, Grantham has done a great job